12/14/2014, 00.00
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On the "Sunday of Joy", pope gives a prayer booklet, telling the faithful to "always carry it"

After the Angelus prayer, Pope Francis gave the crowd a pocketbook of prayers "for the various times of the day and for different situations in life". Earlier, he had blessed the "Baby Jesus" figurines for Nativity scenes brought by the children from Roman oratories. He also said, "With Jesus, joy dwells in us". He also shared the Christmas candle in solidarity with Polish faithful.

Vatican City (AsiaNews) - During the Angelus, on the third Sunday of Advent, the "Sunday of Joy," Pope Francis gave everyone in St Peter's Square a pocketbook of prayers "for the various times of the day and for different situations in life". He also told the crowd, "Take one and always carry it with you, as an aid to live the whole day united with God."

Prayer and joy were the dominant themes of his reflection. Before a group of volunteers handed out the booklet to tens of thousands of people, Francis Pope blessed the "Baby Jesus" figurines for Nativity scenes brought by the children from Roman oratories.

"Dear children," said the pope, "I thank you for your presence and I wish you a Merry Christmas! When you pray at home, in front of your crèche, remember me as I remember you. Prayer is the breath of the soul:  It is important to find moments during the day to open our hearts to God, even with short, simple prayers of the Christian people."

Previously the Holy Father spoke about the topic of joy. "The human heart wants joy. Every family, every people aspires to happiness. But what is the joy that Christians are called to live and witness? It is the one that comes from God's closeness, from his presence in our lives. When Jesus entered history, with his birth in Bethlehem, humanity received the seed of the Kingdom of God, like a field that receives the seed of the coming harvest. You no longer need to look elsewhere! Jesus came to bring joy to all and forever. This is not only a joy hoped for or put off in heaven, but a real and palpable joy in the here and now, because Jesus himself is our joy, and our peace. He is alive, he is the Risen One, and works in us and among us, especially with the Word and the sacraments. "

"With Jesus, joy dwells in us," added the Pope, as he read a banner carried by pilgrims in the square, which he had the crowd repeat several times during the gathering.

Speaking about John the Baptist, quoted in today's Gospel (Jn. 1:6-8, 19:28), he added, "All of us baptised, children of the Church, are called to renew our welcome to God's presence in our midst and help others to discover it, or rediscover it if they had forgotten it. This is a very beautiful mission, like that of John the Baptist: directing people towards Christ, not ourselves, because he is the goal toward which the human heart turns when seeking joy and happiness."

"Again, Saint Paul, in today's liturgy, indicates the conditions for being " missionaries of joy": praying without ceasing, giving thanks in all circumstances, not quenching the Spirit, retaining what is good, and refraining from every kind of evil (cf. 1 Th 5:17 -22). If this is our way of life, then the Good News can come in so many homes and families and help people rediscover that in Jesus there is salvation. In Him, one can find inner peace and strength to face every day the different situations of life, even the heaviest and most difficult ones."

Speaking off the cuff, he added, "No one has ever heard of a saint or a sad saint, with a long face. . ."

Lastly, "With our sights now turned to the upcoming Christmas, the Church calls on us to bear witness that Jesus is not a character from the past. He is the Word of God that continues to illuminate man's path. His gestures - the Sacraments - are the manifestation of the Father's tenderness, consolation, and love for every human being. May the Virgin Mary, 'Cause of our joy', make us always happy in the Lord, who comes to free ourselves from many forms of inner and outer slavery."

Following the Angelus, the Pope greeted, among others, Polish pilgrims. "I spiritually unite myself to their countrymen who now are lighting the 'Christmas Candle' and reaffirming their commitment of solidarity, especially in this Year of Caritas, which is celebrated in Poland".

To reiterate the tradition, he showed the crowd a lighted candle in the window of his study.

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